Cocoa Farmers

“Nyame Akwan” a Village Savings and Loans scheme is making strikes in the socio-economic lives of women in Agogooso, a farming community in the Adansi South District.

The scheme, which was introduced in the community by Nature Aid Ghana, an NGO, as part of efforts to improve the livelihoods of women in cocoa farming, is actually shaping the lives of the women in the community and gradually lifting them out of abject poverty.

According to the women, the introduction of the local scheme for the women who formed the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA), which although was not regulated by any identifiable body in the financial sector, had not only brought peace in their homes but also changed their lives economically.

Per the scheme, the women make weekly contributions as savings to the group’s executives, and they are able to secure loans from their contributions on monthly basis.

Madam Christiana Frimpong, Chairperson of the “Nyame Akwan” group, told journalists during a tour of the community ahead of this year’s International Women’s Day Celebration, that, at first the women were reluctant to join the group, but they had now realized its importance in their socio-economic lives.

She said through determination, she in particular, had started petty trading aside her farming and she was now able to support her husband and the family.

Madam Frimpong hinted that the group had been able to mobilize and disburse not less than GH₵40,000.00 to members for their various business activities.

The group had also been able to provide financial support for the reconstruction of a stalled two-unit kindergarten block project in the community.

Again, Madam Frimpong said since the inception of the scheme, more men were at peace with their families (wives), since the women did not have to demand so much but rather, assisting their husbands in the upkeep of their homes.

She however, appealed to the government to assist the community to complete the stalled KG block to provide convenient environment for their children to attend school.

Madam Adwoa Buyaa, a cocoa farmer, said through the VSLA she was now able to manage her four-acre cocoa farm well.

She indicated that the loans secured had assisted her to hire workers to work on her farm, purchase farm implements and thereby reducing her workload on the farm.

Crop yields from her farm had also increase in the last two years, and thus, making it possible to cater for her two children in school.

Mr. Sampson Adu, a 38-year old farmer, indicated that his wife who belonged to the group secured a loan for them to expand their farms and added that, they were making so much profit from their farms lately.

Nana Nti Aboagye, Odikro of Agogoose, expressed his appreciation to Nature Aid Ghana for introducing the community led savings and loans scheme, saying it had help the women in the community who used to secure loans from micro finance companies at an exorbitant rates and which repayment sometimes, became a huge problem.

The introduction of the flexible local loan scheme, according to the Odikro, had made the women able to focus without having to go for monies from micro finances companies.

Again, the scheme had helped the women to be pivotal in their family welfare and also reduced petty fights among community members and families.

Nana Aboagye used the occasion to appeal to the government for a Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compound to cater for the health needs of the people.

Mr. Joseph Baradoe, Executive Director of Nature Aid Ghana, explaining the concept to newsmen, said the aim of the NGO was to ensure that every woman in the cocoa sector was financially inclusive, and that was why, the VSLA was introduced at Agogooso, one of the Organization’s operating communities.

With this women are able to get credit to support petty trading, and purchase of implements for farming.

The NGO had also trained some of the women in soap and pastries making to enable them earn additional income outside the main farming seasons.

Nature Aid Ghana started the project in the community in 2018, with focus on primary education improvement, child labour eradication and women empowerment.

Aside the financial scheme, Mr. Baradoe said the organization was assisting the community to complete a KG block for the people.

He appealed to COCOBOD to support the community in basic infrastructure development.

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